Tejashwi Prasad Yadav vs Hareshbhai Pranshankar Mehta on 13 February, 2024

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Supreme Court of India

Tejashwi Prasad Yadav vs Hareshbhai Pranshankar Mehta on 13 February, 2024

Author: Abhay S. Oka

Bench: Abhay S. Oka

2024 INSC 108


                                                                          Non-Reportable

                                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                        CRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION


                                  TRANSFER PETITION (CRL.) NO. 846 OF 2023

                            Tejashwi Prasad Yadav                            … Petitioner


                                                        versus


                            Hareshbhai Pranshankar Mehta                   … Respondent


                                                      JUDGMENT

ABHAY S. OKA, J.

FACTUAL ASPECTS

1. The respondent filed a private complaint against the
petitioner in the Court of the Additional Chief Metropolitan
Magistrate, Ahmedabad, alleging commission of the offence
under Section 499, which is punishable under Section 500 of
the Indian Penal Code (for short, ‘the IPC’). The learned
Magistrate issued a summons on 28th August 2023. The
present petition seeks a transfer of the complaint from the
Court in Ahmedabad to a Court in Delhi.

2. The complaint is based on the utterances of the
petitioner, which formed part of a public statement made by
the petitioner on 22nd March 2023, which was reported by
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Anita Malhotra
Date: 2024.02.13
17:54:32 IST
Reason: both electronic and print media. It is alleged in the complaint

Transfer Petition (Crl.) no.846 of 2023 Page 1 of 7
that the petitioner made a public statement to the following
effect:-

“Jo bhi do thug hai na, jo thug hai, thug
ko anumati jo hai, aaj ke desh ke
condition me dekha jaye then only
Gujarati hi thug ho sakte hai, aur uske
thug ko maaf kiya jayega. LIC ko paisa
do, bank ko paisa do, fir wo log le ke
bhag jayenge, to kaun jimmedaar
hoga?”

The respondent relied upon a pen drive of a video of the
petitioner’s statement appearing on YouTube. The case made
out by the respondent is that by the above utterances, the
petitioner has defamed the Gujarati people and the entire
society of Gujarat. His contention is that the petitioner
described all Gujarati people as “thugs”. According to the
case made out in the complaint, as a result of the said
utterances, people from other societies have started looking
upon Gujaratis as crooks and criminals. When the complaint
was filed, the petitioner was the Deputy Chief Minister of
Bihar.

3. This Court issued notice on 6th November 2023 and
granted a stay of proceedings of the Complaint. At that time,
the statement of the learned senior counsel appearing for the
petitioner was recorded that he would seek necessary
instructions from the petitioner. The petitioner filed an
affidavit dated 18th January 2024. Paragraphs 1 to 4 of the
said affidavit read thus:

Transfer Petition (Crl.) no.846 of 2023 Page 2 of 7

“1. At the outset, I wish to clarify
that qua that part of the speech that is
alleged to be defamatory, it was made
in the context of a question asked to
me with respect to the Red Corner
notice issued against Mehul Choksi
which has been revoked. In that
context, I was asked whether the CBI
has failed to bring back Mehul Choksi
to India. I was responding to the
failure of CBI to deal with such alleged
swindlers.

2. My answer was in response to
this specific question. I wondered how
such swindlers were allowed to operate
in India in the fashion that they did
and in that context, I referred to the
expression Gujarati and said “Only
Gujarati may be swindler and these
swindlers may be exonerated”. I
further said, “If provide the money of
LIC and provide money of the bank to
the swindlers then these swindlers will
take money and ran away, who shall
be responsible?”

3. My statement has been
interpreted to mean that I intentionally
wanted to defame Gujaratis as a
community. This is far from the truth.
I hold Gujaratis, as a community in
great esteem and have no against
them. Further want to state greatest
gift to the mankind i.e. our great
Mahatma Gandhi was from Gujarat. I
had no intentions to defame Gujaratis
as a community. However, if any
Gujarati feels that I by using the
expression noted above hurt their
sentiments, that certainly was not my
intention.

Transfer Petition (Crl.) no.846 of 2023 Page 3 of 7

4. Therefore, I unconditionally
withdraw that part of my statement
made on 22.03.2023 in which I use the
expression that only “Only Gujarati
may be swindler and these swindlers
may be exonerated”.”
(underline supplied)

4. On 29th January 2024, when this petition was heard,
the learned counsel appearing for the respondent pointed out
that the petitioner had not withdrawn his entire offending
statement. Therefore, the petitioner filed another affidavit
dated 31st January 2024. Paragraphs 4 to 6 thereof read
thus:

“4. Therefore, I unconditionally withdraw
that part of my statement made on
22.03.2023 in which I use the expression
that only “Only Gujarati may be swindler
and these swindlers may be exonerated”.

Further I unconditionally withdraw any
part of my statement made on
22.03.2023 against “People of State of
Gujarat”.

5. I reiterate that the context in which
the statement was made related to those
fugitives who had swindled money,
cheated the Government and ran away
from the country. The said statement
was not meant to hurt the sentiments of
Gujaratis as a community.

6. I have clarified the intent of my
statement made on 22.03.2023 and
withdrawn it so that no Gujarati may feel
defamed as alleged.”
(underline supplied)

Transfer Petition (Crl.) no.846 of 2023 Page 4 of 7

5. From the two affidavits, it is clear that not only has the
petitioner withdrawn the offending statements made by him
based on which the complaint was filed, but he has also
stated that he never intended to defame Gujaratis as a
community. He has also stated that he holds Gujaratis as a
community in great esteem. On a conjoint reading of both the
affidavits, it is very clear that the petitioner has withdrawn
the statements made by him on 22nd March 2023, which,
according to the respondent, were defamatory to the entire
Gujarati community.

6. On 22nd January 2024, the learned counsel for the
respondent was granted time to take instructions on the first
affidavit filed by the petitioner. On 29th January 2024, we
had put the respondent to notice that if the petitioner
withdraws his offending statements, it will be appropriate that
the entire controversy is put to rest by quashing the
complaint.

7. On 5th February 2024, the learned counsel appearing for
the respondent stated that the respondent has not given him
specific instructions to consent to quashing the complaint.
However, the learned counsel fairly submitted that in the light
of the withdrawal of the statements and two affidavits filed by
the petitioner, this Court may pass appropriate orders.

8. We have already reproduced the statements on oath
made by the petitioner. The conjoint reading of the affidavits
of the petitioner indicates that the statements made by the

Transfer Petition (Crl.) no.846 of 2023 Page 5 of 7
petitioner on the basis of which a complaint of defamation
was filed, have been unconditionally withdrawn. The
petitioner has stated that he holds Gujaratis as a community
in great esteem and has no ill will or animus against them. In
fact, he has stated that Gujarat has given the greatest gift to
mankind of Mahatma Gandhi. He has repeatedly stated that
he had no intention of defaming Gujaratis as a community.
He stated that on 22nd March 2023, while briefing the media
outside the Bihar Legislative Assembly, he made the
statement in response to a question asked to him as regards
the allegation that the Red Corner Notice issued against one
Mehul Choksi has been revoked. Now by filing affidavits, the
petitioner has unconditionally withdrawn the statements
made by him which were objected to by the respondent.

9. It is true that every prosecution for defamation for the
offence under Section 499, which is punishable under Section
500 of the IPC, cannot be quashed on the ground that the
offending allegations have been withdrawn.

10. However, in the facts of the present case, not only that
the statements have been unconditionally withdrawn, but the
petitioner has also explained the circumstances and the
context in which the statements were made. Under Article
142 of the Constitution of India, this Court possesses
extraordinary Constitutional powers to pass any decree or
order which is necessary for doing complete justice between
the parties. In this case, the respondent appears to have
been hurt in view of the statements made by the petitioner

Transfer Petition (Crl.) no.846 of 2023 Page 6 of 7
generally about Gujarati people. Now, after the petitioner has
explained the context in which he made the statements and
after withdrawal of those statements, in the facts of the case,
it is unjust to continue the prosecution. No purpose will be
served by continuing the prosecution. Therefore, we are of
the view that in the peculiar facts of the case, this is a fit case
to quash the complaint.

11. Hence, we quash criminal case bearing
no.CC/83849/2023 arising out of the case
no.CR/EN/7110/2023, titled Hareshbhai Pranshankar Mehta
versus Tejaswi Lalu Prasad Yadav, pending in the Court of the
learned Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate,
Ahmedabad. As the complaint has been quashed, the prayer
for transfer will not survive.

12. The petition is disposed of on the above terms.

….…………………….J.
(Abhay S. Oka)

…..……………………J.
(Ujjal Bhuyan)

New Delhi;

February 13, 2024.

Transfer Petition (Crl.) no.846 of 2023 Page 7 of 7

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